Should success be measured by your busyness?

Should success be measured by your busyness?

Will busyness bring you success? Over the last ten years, I have quite radically changed my outlook on life and my attitudes to success in business and in my life. In the past I was always employed by various organisations and was paid to do a certain job, therefore, if I was a success (or not) was a measure that was clearly defined by them.

So, to be a successful person (in my mind) I had to live up to their external goals that were subsequently validated by my managers and peers, or not, depending on how successful I was at meeting them. Of course, I could meet those goals in certain ways that were in-line with my own values, however, even then, I may not have believed in all aspects of the organisation, the product or even the client!

The old me back then was either very lazy or very efficient (I’m not sure which), because I never seemed to have the same levels of busyness or as much work to do like other people, in fact, I often felt a little guilty that I was not as stressed as my peers. Looking back on that time I can see many strategies that I unknowingly adopted that seemed to work:

  • I would always place things I liked doing at the top of my to-do list
  • As new things I liked came along they would also move up the list
  • If there was something new to learn, I would move it up my to-do list
  • If I hated something I would move it down the list
  • I soon found that many of the to-do items at the bottom of the list just went away (or someone else did them)
  • I would ask “If I only had time to do 50% of this.. which bits would be best for you?” Then, that’s all I did
  • I avoided producing power-point presentations – I’d rather just stand up and talk (it took much less time)

Even though I had these strategies that seemed quite avoidant I was usually very successful in all of my endeavours, however, I still didn’t feel successful because I felt like a fake, I always thought people would see through my incompetence and pull the rug from under me, I felt shallow.

Now, 10 years later, after years of intense personal growth and running my own therapy practice I can see that I was never shallow, I always tried to do my best, I just didn’t know who I was or what I wanted – I didn’t know how to be successful – because I didn’t know what a real measure of success actually was. You might say my busyness was too random.

So, where should your busyness be focused?

So what is success then? These days, I think it is a feeling that you get when you are doing what you want to do, in the way you’d like to do it, and where, you need little or no external validation to stroke your ego. Success is an emotion rather than a getting of something, of course, you may well get things too, money, status and experiences.

So, if success is an emotion or a state of mind, then, what is success to you? How do you measure your success?

We feel that for some people busyness has become a (rather clumsy) measure of how successful they are, it is almost as if  “The more things I can tick off my to-do list, the more successful I am being….” – Even if they are not happy doing what they do or feel that what they are doing has no purpose, they still seem to get some feeling of success as long as they are busy! Well, we just can’t subscribe to that philosophy any more.

This has become so prevalent in our culture, let me give you an example; have you noticed how many people use the phrase Are you busy? these days as a greeting, rather than, How are you? to me this is craziness! Since when has busyness become a measure of a greeting? In addition, if you were to say No, I’m not busy they would feel sorry for you or think you were not a success, or even try to help you! Or, worse still, you might feel embarrassed to say “no, I’m not busy”!!!

I love this Monty Python Sketch about the Olympic 100 yard dash for People With No Sense of Direction

Therefore, it’s one thing having busyness in your life and (perhaps) quite another to be successful? One of my favourite quotes goes like this:

“Half an hours meditation each day is essential, except when you are very busy. Because, then, a full hour is needed!

So, here’s what I’d like you to do…. Go and sit in a coffee shop one lunchtime and watch everyone running around and ask yourself the question “What is my measure of success?”

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